Picking up a discussion that started on Twitter but got a bit out of hand. Reversed the order, expanded twitterisms, joined continuing tweets, untangled crossing threads, otherwise unedited. I’ve even left the digressions in in case they become relevant later. Don’t hesitate to speak up, even if you weren’t among the original participants!
sciamannata Marcionism (very successful early Christian movement, aka heretics) seems to share an opinion of the OT god with me and Dawkins. 🙂
irinarempt ooh, tell me more! I also have an opinion of the OT god, and I don’t know if I would be comfortable sharing it with Dawkins. – my opinion of the OT god is roughly that he’s a merciless bastard. (Well, can’t be bastard, doesn’t have father, but YKWIM)
zeborah Though the OT god could often still be argued with, so not completely merciless.
irinarempt True. But I have a feeling that saying “God is merciful” so often and so loudly is done for a purpose.
sciamannata Well, of course Dawkins (like me) doesn’t think the OT god exists, so there is that… Marcion probably thought he did. “Merciless bastard” seems like a good summary, yes (for me, Dawkins and Marcion). Capricious, too. Dawkins has a good screed about it (the only “rude” bit of The God Delusion in fact). I’ll see if I find it online. Here it is: the 1st quote on this page is the Dawkins screed I was talking about http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3044365 “Marcion held maltheistic views of the God of the Hebrew Bible, that he was inconsistent, jealous, wrathful and genocidal and that the material world he created was defective; the God who made such a world is a bungling or malicious demiurge.” In explaining Marcion the podcast focused mostly on the “just, meaning merciless” aspect (to differentiate from Gnostics).
irinarempt “just, meaning merciless” is exactly what I meant. – aargh, shouldn’t have read the other quotes, they make me fume.
sciamannata Oh dear, sorry about that. I rather liked the book actually, but he can be a bit sniffy… – Here’s a summary, in the 1st quote within the “Teachings” section: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcionism#Teachings
irinarempt The brain, she spins. No time or attention for heresies, however intriguing.
sciamannata Heh. Some of them are pretty headspinning, especially the Gnostics… I’m fascinated more by the history than the theology tho.
irinarempt I suspect it’s mostly the view of the OT writers that puts down God as merciless; living in actual fear of God.
green_knight I found a lot of the God delusion rude 🙁
sciamannata Ah well. I found it rather genteel on the whole, in a very Oxford-don fashion. Often supercilious and sometimes snotty though. I may just have a different standard for “rude”, or that I think religion should be handled like any other ideology, no better.
green_knight Agree with ideology, but he decides that all religions are the same and attacks that strawman. You can deny existence of deities without denying that believers might get something positive out of framing world like this. As long as religion stays a private truth – right for me – and doesn’t hurt others – you mustn’t do x because I don’t like x – I’m fine with it. We all construct reality differently. Deities aren’t the only harmful or strongly-held beliefs; think economic convictions.
sciamannata I got a different impression. I think he did make those distinctions and then explicitly focused on the more obnoxious versions, and I didn’t see a lot of strawmen. He does recognize that some believers get something positive out of it, but it’s still based on a delusion and therefore ultimately wrong, so they’d be better off believing something true instead (here I agree with him I’m afraid). He does say that if all believers were nice & liberal & private about it he wouldn’t really have a problem with them, but he does because they enable nastier believers. Anyway – not trying to say you should like the book, if you didn’t you didn’t! Just explaining how I saw it. Of course religions aren’t the only harmful beliefs! I doubt anybody believes that (tho you never know, there’s all kinds…)
irinarempt but how can we know what is true? I prefer believing something I can believe in, even though it’s not The Truth, to taking something else on authority that I can’t relate to.
sciamannata Yes, I suppose that is where the core disagreement lies: what constitutes authority, what is believable.